One of Reading's greatest victories in the FA Cup came when they 'staggered humanity' against Aston Villa on 7th February 1912, in a second round replay. The Biscuitmen were a Southern League outfit whilst their opponents had recently won the League Championship. The Berkshire Chronicle reported it thus:


Great Victory; Aston Villa ousted; By 'Ubique'

The scene at Reading at the close of the replayed tie with Aston Villa on Wednesday will long be remembered by all who were present. Reading had won a glorious - and in the opinion of practically all the critics, an impossible - victory over one of the great cup fighting teams of the country. It was a triumph secured by one of the finest exhibitions of pluck which has ever been witnessed on the football field and consummated by one of the prettiest goals in the annals of Reading Football Club. And it gave Reading the right to meet another of the foremost clubs in the country (Manchester United) with the prospect of another great game and additional kudos for the long-struggling but magnificently plucky Reading Football Club. No wonder that in such circumstances as these the enthusiasm of the crowd reached to the highest pitch. Hundreds rushed onto the field to shower their congratulations on the men who had secured so signal a success, while those who filed slowly out of the ground showed by their flushed faces and vociferous cheering how greatly they appreciated the success. It was a proud moment in the history of the club, and atoned for much of it's bad luck in the past. I expect the Villa directors said to themselves "What demons these Reading men are when they thoroughly get going".

Phew! Seems as if 'Ubique' was flushed with pride! He goes on to describe the only goal;

A brilliant goal

One goal sufficed and that will be talked of for many a day. Bailey seized on the ball, following fine work by the defence and refused to be shaken off; indeed, on this occasion it was the Villa man who had the worst of the deal, for in attempting to over throw Bailey as the latter passed to Lee, he found mother earth himself. Thus at the moment when Lee was in the act of centring Bailey was bending over his opponent asking him if he was hurt. Lee, with time to gauge his centre, placed with splendid accuracy and Foster, taking the ball as it came across and without a seconds hesitation, placed it over Anstey's shoulder into the net. Rarely has one seen a better example of a first time shot; the goalie was helpless and the defenders were quite unable to get back.. The scene which followed is indescribable. From 14,000 throats vociferous cries of joy were raised and rattles and trumpets helped to swell the din. The noise penetrated through the "Chronicle" telephone to the office where they needed no assurance that Reading had scored. On the golf links members stopped in their play and congratulated one another that at any rate Reading had got a goal. Further afield the glad tidings spread. On the playing field itself Foster was surrounded by his colleagues and his hand was almost wrung off. It was a great moment, for victory was now in sight.

 

 

This article appeared in the 'Reading Standard', and gives a real flavour of the language and humour from a more innocent age. It perfectly sums up the excitement of a proper giant-killing.


Reading's Famous Victory; Scenes At The Great Cup Fight

It is many a day since a football match in Reading caused such feverish excitement or a victory such wild scenes of exultation as on Wednesday, when the team of the R.F.C. beat Aston Villa after three hours play and qualified to compete in the third round of the English Cup. As he stood in the main streets of the town before the match and watched the people walking along Oxford Road in unbroken streams and packing the tramcars like sardines, the ordinary onlooker could not fail to be impressed with this study in humanity. There was only one topic of conversation; nothing else mattered on this day of days. Trains, heavily laden with victims of the football fever, streamed into the Reading stations about dinner time, and contributed two or three thousand to the crowd which began to assemble outside Elm Park two hours before the match and formed one imposing square of humanity round the playing pitch. Every vantage point was utilised; ardent souls obtained a bird's eye view of the game from neighbouring house tops, while with greater daring half-a-dozen youths climbed a stout tree and clung to the branches, heedless of their perilous position. 

A remarkable assortment of characters pressed through the turnstiles and planked down their shillings, and more in hundreds of cases. There one observed the stolid workman, the struggling clerk, the prosperous tradesman, the genial sportsman, the broad-minded minister of the gospel, and there was a liberal sprinkling of the fair sex. The colours of the rival clubs were displayed everywhere, rattles made the welkin ring before and during the match, and one ingenious party of Reading supporters brandished a device attached to which was a pair of trousers and the inscription "are we downhearted?" and the obvious cry "no, not in these trousers"*. The scenes of the day were overshadowed by the demonstration when Reading scored their goal. The crowd roared their delight for two or three minutes, and hats were waved and tossed in the air, while when the victorious eleven stepped from the ground at the final whistle, hundreds ran over to congratulate them, and would have shouldered them had not the police kept a passage for the players.

* I've looked for a reference for this, but can't find anything. I'm assuming it was a music hall joke or a comedian's catchphrase.